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Will.i.am’s heart hurts for today’s fame-hungry youth

The 43-year-old Black Eyed Peas frontman on where he found his entrepreneurial spirit and why he doesn’t consider himself to be ‘political’

“I don’t know what the f**k the word ‘star’ means,” says will.i.am. “When I was growing up, I didn’t want to be a star, I just wanted to take care of my mom. I wasn’t even looking for a record deal.”

It’s here, half way through this week’s Letter To My Younger Self, that it becomes obvious Black Eyed Peas frontman and The Voice judge will.i.am is the product of decades of hard work, sincerity, and and a steadfast entrepreneurial spirit.

“It hurts my heart when young people tell me they want to be a star,” he tells The Big Issue. “I didn’t actively chase a record deal until Eazy-E passed away in 1995 and we started the Black Eyed Peas and I thought, I know what a record deal is now, and we need one.”

The singer also talks about his friendship with Black Eyed Peas bandmate apl. “The reason I am who I am today is because I met that kid at 14,” will.i.am says. “When Eazy-E died… doors were shut in our faces. But we kept going, ‘til one day we both went back to the Philippines together as the Black Eyed Peas. And the people who used to call this little kid Nub Nub because he was half-black, they celebrated him as a Filippino national treasure. I saw how he felt. And I felt like it was me coming home too.”

Shop The Big Issue’s will.i.am collection

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